Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

declare, that the precious truths of the Gospel are grown vile among us; that we have taken a surfeit of this heavenly manna, this bread of life, and now begin to loath it. Beware lest this surfeit bring not a famine after it.

It plainly argues much profaneness in our spirits, when we bring only our outward man, our dull and heavy carcases to attend upon God, while our hearts and minds are straying and wandering from him. This is a sign, that we despise God; and account any thing good enough, the lame and the blind, to be offered up unto him. Against such, God hath thundered out a most dreadful curse: Mal. i. 14. Cursed be the deceiver, who hath in his flock a male, and voweth and sacrificeth unto the Lord a cors rupt thing : for I am a great King, saith the Lord of Hosts, and my name is dreadful. Thou, who sufferest thy thoughts, or thine eyes which are the 'index of them, to rove in prayer, or to be sealed up with sleep in hearing, thou despisest the Great God, before whom thou appearest; and thinkest it enough, if thou affordest him thy bodily presence, although thy heart be, with the eyes of the fools, in the ends of the earth. For such a service is but mockery. And it is less irrision, to tender God no service, than to perform it slightly and perfunctorily: the ones is disobedience; but the other, is contempt.

This is a Fourth Character of a Profane Person.

[5] He is a profane person, that performs holy duties for worldly ends and advantages. ...:

For what greater contempt of God can there be, than to make his service truckle under the base and low designs of this pres sent life ! This is to make religion tributary to interest, and God himself a homage to mammon. And this all hypocrites are guilty of; though they mask their designs with specious pretences, and draw the veil of religion over their sordid and wicked contrivancés: yet they cry out, with Jehu, Come, see my zeal for the Lord of Hosts; when he drove on so furiously only for the kingdom.

.

. · Indeed, a hypocrite, though he be not commonly so'esteemed, is the most profane wretch that lives. The gross, profligate sinner offers not half so much indignity to religion, as he doth.

For,

Ist. The hypocrite calls in God to be a complice and partaker with him in his crimes; and entitles his majesty, who is infinitely pure and holy, to the wickedness he commits, as if they were done for his sake, and merely upon his account: and so makes God to be the patron of sin, who will be the judge and condemner of sinners.

Alluis injustice, rapine, and rebellion are coloured over with the fair prețences of the glory of God, the interest of the kingdom of Christ, the advancement of the power of godliness, re. formation of idolatry and superstition, &c. and there is no act of fraud or violence, faction or sedition, but he thinks it justified and hallowed by these glorious names : which is nothing else but to rob men, and make God the receiver, who is the detester, and will be the punisher of such crimes. Now the open and flagitious wretch, although he hates God as much as the hypo. crite, yet he doth not so much deride him: his wickednesses are plain and avowed: and every one may see, from whence they proceed, and whither they tend ; that they come from hell, and directly tend thither: religion is not at all concerned, to colour, but only to condemri them. And, judge ye, which doth most despise God and Godliness : either he, who professeth it not at all, or he, who professeth ít only that he may abuse and abase it, and make it subservient to such vile and sordid ends as are infinitely unworthy of it.

2dly. The wound, that religion receives from hypocrites, is far more dangerous and incurable, than that, which the open and scandalous sinner inflicts upon it.

For religion is never brought into question, by the enormous vices of an infamous person: all see, and all abhor bis-lewdness. Bút, when a man shall have his mouth full of piety and hands full of wickedness, when he shall speak Seripture and live Devilism, profess strictly and walk loosely : this'lays a grievous stumbling. black in the way of others; and teinpts them to think, that all religion is hut mockery, and that the professors of it are but hypocrites, and so imbitters their hearts against it, as å solemn cheat put upon the credulous world. Certainly, such men are the causes of all that contempt, which is cast upon the ways and ordinances of God; and their secret profaneness hath given occasion to the gross and open profaneness, that now abounds in the world: and the hypocrisy of former years hath too fatally introduced the atheism of these.

Nay, a hypocrite must needs be an atheist : and, in his heart, deny many of God's glorious attributes, but especially his omniscience; and say within himself, as those, Ps. Ixxiii, 11. Tush, God shall not know; and is their knowledge in the Most High? For did they but believe, that God looks through all

-

their disguises ; and that his eye, which is light unto itself, pierceth into their very souls: did they but seriously consider, that all things are naked and before him; that he knows our thoughts afar off, and is privy to our closest designs : they would not, certainly, be either so daringly wicked, or so childishly foolish, as to plot upon God, and seek to cozen and delude Omniscience.

Now this profaneness of the hypocrite, in seeking temporal things by spiritual pretences, is much more abominable than the profaneness of others, who seek them by unjust and unlawful means: for the one only, makes impiety, but the other piety itself an instrument of his vile and sordid profit; than which, there cannot be a greater scorn and contempt put upon religion.

[6] He is a profane person, who makes what God hath sanc*tified common and unhallowed.

And have we not many such profane persons among us? Many, that abuse the holy and reverend name of God, which ought to be had in the highest esteem and veneration, about light and frivolous matters? who only make mention of him in their idle chat; but are mute and dumb, when any thing should be spoken to his praise? Many, that profane bis Sabbaths; and, although God hath liberally allowed them six days for the affairs of earth, yet will not spare the seventh for the affairs of heaven; but impiously invade, what he hath set apart and consecrated for himself, and his own immediate worship and service? Many, that never speak Scripture, but when they abuse it: making the Bible their jest-book; and prostituting those phrases and expressions, which God hath sanctified to convey unto us the knowledge of himself and eternal life, to the laugh. ter and mirth of their loose companions? So that those very words, which the Holy Ghost inspired into the penmen of the Sacred Scriptures for the edification of the Church, the Devil inspires into these wretches for their own damnation, and the damnation of those that have pleasure in such horrid profaneness.

[7] He is a profane person, who despiseth spiritual privileges and enjoyments.

Upon this very account, the Scripture sets that black and indelible brand upon Esau: Heb. xii. 16. Lest there be any profane person among you, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. And why is Esau stigmatised as profane, for selling his birthright, but because in those first ages of the

world, the firstborn or eldest of the family was a priest, and that sacred function by right of primogeniture belonged unto him ? and therefore we read, that the Tribe of Levi were taken by God to be his priests and ministers, in exchange for the firstborn. Now to slight and undervalue an office so holy and sacred, a privilege so eminent, a dignity so sublime and spi. ritual, to part with it only for the satisfying of his bunger, was a sign of a profane spirit; in preferring the God, his belly, before the God of Heaven; and for ever renouncing his right of sacrificing to the True God, only that he might sacrifice one pleasant morsel to his impatient appetite.

And, certainly, if it were so profane in Esau to slight and cona temn the priesthood in himself, they are also profane, who vilify it in others; and make those the objects of their lowest scorn and contempt, whose office it is to stand and minister before God and Christ. Certainly, if a dishonour done to an ambassador reflects upon the prince that sent him, will not Christ account it as an affront and injury done unto him, when you affront and injure those his messengers and ambassadors, whom he hath sent to treat with you in his name, and about the concernments of his kingdom ? .

But, not to speak more of this, lest we should be thought to plead for ourselves : are not those profane, who despise and cona temn the high privileges and dignity of the children of God? who despise those, whom God so highly honours, as to adopt them into his own family, to admit them into near communion and endearments with himself, to make them his own sons, and give them the privilege of heirs of eternal glory? Doubtless, he, who despiseth him that is begotten, despiseth him likewise that begetteth; and the common disrespect, which is shewn to the servants and children of God, argues a secret contempt of him, who is their Master and their Father.

Now lay these things to your own hearts, and bring them home to your own consciences, and see whether you are in none of these particulars guilty of profaneness. Do none of you think slightly of religion ; accounting it either a politic design, or a needless preciseness ? Are none of you negligent in the public worship and service of God; nor yet in private and family duties; or, if you perform them, is it not very carelessly and perfunctorily; or, if you seem zealous in them, is it not your zeal excited by some temporal advantages, and low base VOL. I.

АА

worldly ends and designs ? Do you not make that common and unhallowed, which God hath made holy; either by abusing his Name, polluting his Sabbaths, or vilifying his Word in your ordinary raillery? And, lastly, do none of you despise spiritual privileges and enjoyments, and those likewise who are invested with them? If so, how fair and specious soever your lives and actions may be, although you may think the rude debauched sinner at a vast distance from yourselves, and account him the only profane person : yet, certainly, this black style belongs as properly to you; and you are profane violators of this First Command, which requires you to take the Lord for your God, and accordingly to honour and reverence him and whatsoever appertains unto him.

And, thus much, for the Third Notable Transgression of this Command, Profaneness,

4. The Fourth and last breach of this Command is by Idolatry: Thou shalt have no other Gods besides me; which they transgress, who set up any other God besides the Lord Jehovah.

Idolatry, according to its etymology and use, signifies a serve ing of images or idols. Now, an idol, though it properly signifies an artificial effigie or resemblance made to represent any thing or person; yet, in divinity, it signifies any thing besides the True God, unto which we ascribe divine honour and worship. · And, as an idol is twofold; one, Internal, in the fiction and imagination of the mind; another, External and visible, either the work of men's hands as statues and images, or else the work of God's hands as the sun, moon, and stars, or any other creature : so there is a twofold idolatry; the one, Internal, when in our minds and affections we honour and venerate that as God, which indeed is not so, but is either a creature of the True God, or a fiction of a deluded fancy; the other, External, which we are then guilty of, when we express the inward veneration of our souls, by outward acts of adoration. As, for instance: whosoever shall believe the consecrated bread in the Sacrament to be transubstantiated and changed into the true and proper body of Jesus Christ, and, upon this belief, shall in his mind revere and honour it as his God, as the Papists do, he is guilty of Internal Idolatry: but if, to this internal veneration, he add any external rites of worship, as prostration, invocation, &c. he is then likewise guilty of External Idolatry,

« AnteriorContinuar »